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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Culture crossed with the Roman Empire
Ancilliary Justice starts with its central character, who goes by the alias of Breq, on a wintery planet in search of a weapon with which she hopes to revenge events from 20 years previously. The story of those events is told in alternate chapters where we learn about a universe which is home to the imperial Radch, whose artificially intelligent starships control networks...
Published 5 months ago by P. G. Harris

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and unusual
Breq is unique but she wasn't always. Once Breq was a spaceship, Justice of Toren, comprising thousands of corpse soldiers, each with a shared identity, one of many such vessels spreading the influence of the Imperial Radch around the Galaxy. Breq is now alone, her vessel destroyed, and she has only one goal - to take vengeance on Anaander Mianaai, the lord of the Radch,...
Published 11 months ago by Kate


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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice book, 23 Jun 2014
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Good idea behind the read and very well executed. It created a strong atmosphere and I will most likely buy the next book in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant!, 17 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
A fabulous world and culture has been brought it life. I don't think you will ever have come across a culture that the raaadch . Read this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best SF I have read in a long time, 14 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book has won the 2014 Nebula, 2013 BSFA and Arthur C. Clarke Awards so it already has high praise so if you already like Science Fiction you have probably heard of and about it. The awards are definitely justified.

The premise is original, although aspects of it have been explored before but rarely this well. It is set in a far future where artificial intelligences running ships and stations are ubiquitous and a key part of a galaxy wide human culture. Yet these AIs are not single entities, they are group minds made of multiple parts and ancillaries and this multiplicity of parts and character making up a whole is key to much of the feel of the book and the writing explores this well. The protagonist and narrator is one of these minds yet also human. To say more would be to reveal too much of the plot but one you start reading it all will fall into place.

Other areas the book explores are those of gender and language. The humans of the dominant culture in the book are not genderless or sexless but their society and language is. To render this into English all of the characters are referred to as "She" regardless as to their actual gender when the narrator is using her native language. There are times though when she has to struggle with other languages and societies where that is not the case which is both a source of humour for us the reader and difficulty for the narrator. I enjoyed this aspect of the writing immensely but if I have a small criticism there were a couple of times where I felt it got intrusive. Stick with it though and soon it feel natural and invisible.

Other than - read it - there really is not much more I can say that has not been said by other reviewers. If you like SF this is definitely a "must read" book. If you don't but appreciate good writing based on ideas then this would be an excellent entry to prove the genre is a lot more than just space ships and ray guns.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A most unusual viewpoint, 11 Jun 2014
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Paul Taylor (West of England, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Without wishing to include too many spoilers, this reminds me in several ways of the Culture books by Iain M Banks; in other ways it is very different. Something Banks wrote about, a constructed language designed to be bias-neutral (gender neutral, culturally neutral, etc), is a pervasive thing in this book which feels quite strange but also oddly internally consistent as a result. Banks' Marain was never translated into English so carefully - the central character of Ancillary Justice thinks in a first language which is entirely gender neutral and as a result, unless speaking in another language or making a specific point, all characters are referenced using the feminine. One forms mental images which can, a few sentences or pages or chapters later, be shattered as it becomes obvious that 'she' is in fact male. Other characters never crystallise their true gender. It lends an almost experimental aura to the whole work.

Banks also had Minds, artificial intelligences often associated with constructed environments, starships and the like. But Avatars are perverted into Ancillaries by this author, a brutal concept of captive humans with their minds essentially forcibly overwritten by fragments of a controlling AI, then used brutally by the culture which made them to further its own aims of conquest, in pursuit of 'civilising' annexed cultures by force. Even the Grey Area would draw the line before going that far.

The first person narration is beautifully consistent, the viewpoint never faltering. There are a small number of central characters but the interaction between them, and the surrounding events, are elegantly done; the book drew me in - I was 80 pages in before I realised it. I await the next two books in the trilogy with keen interest. Recommended as a superb and very original take on space opera which is at once on a human scale and written on a huge canvas, from a narrative viewpoint the like of which I don't believe I have ever encountered in this form before.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A sure Fire Hugo winner, 9 Jun 2014
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Paul Simpson (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
The Gender stuff was what was cool, and that’s what’s going to win her the Hugo, as she has tried to do something different with language. It felt like a natural progression of the IM banks universe, but I was slightly disappointed how it ended and sets up the next too books. Space wars seem so cliché
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and engaging., 9 Jun 2014
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J. R. Bedford (Huddersfield UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Breq was a space ship, the Justice of Toren, equipped with enough power to destroy planets and enough ancillaries to invade and conquer 'uncivilised' worlds in Radch 'annexations', however now she's just Breq, human (more or less) and alone despite her memories. She's the last surviving ancilliary (corpse soldier) of the One Esk division, of Justice of Toren with a self-imposed mission.

There are two stories here, the one happening in the now, and the backstory that led up to it. In one Breq is alone, in the other, she's an omnicient AI running a ship full of ancillaries and human officers

The action opens on an icy planet when Breq, in pursuit of an artefact she needs to complete her mission, comes across Seivarden, once a lieutenant on Justice of Toren a thousand years before. Old habits die hard and without really justifying it as an act of kindness Breq rescues Seivarden and ends up acting as a nursemaid. Seivarden is a recovering junkie, driven to dark places after jumping the intervening millennium in cryo-stasis and waking up in a universe that seems wrong.

Breq and Seivarden hardly seem to like each other, but their paths intertwine, at first almost accidentally and then with growing reliance.

To be honest the beginning seemed a bit slow because there are so many ideas in here and the set up requires an understanding of the way all Justice of Toren's ancillaries are a part of the central ship's intelligence, each one fully aware of the whole. Leckie does a marvellous job of writing this without making it too confusing for the reader. One Esk comprises twenty linked individuals and each one is referred to as I, but it works.

Pronouns are confusing too, at first. Everyone is referred to as she, whether they have a curvy or straight physique, and you get very few clues as to what gender individuals are, which actually works well in this context. Breq has problems with pronouns in the non-Radch worlds because she can't get the hang of gendered pronouns and sometimes makes the wrong call.

As an adjunct of an AI you'd expect Breq to have no emotions, and, indeed, she can and does carry out instructions from her superior officers even if that means going against her personal feelings. It's one of these actions that she's forced to carry out that drives the plot and we do discover that Breq has feelings, she just doesn't express them in quite the same way as we might expect.

This is a book with big ideas, that doesn't sacrifice characterisation for ideas and though Breq's future seems inevitable, we find that there are choices which depend on personalities as well as logic.

Intelligent, thoughtful, complex and engaging, this is one of those books that you end up thinking about long after you've read the last page and closed the volume. It deserves all the awards it's up for.
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4.0 out of 5 stars incredibly polished first novel, 1 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Taking the by-now well trodden path of post-Banks big ideas space opera, but twisting it in a genuinely original direction this first novel is still unmistakably a "first novel", but is. One which definitely comes out well ahead of the pack. Don't let the John Scalzi recommendation put you off, this is about as far from cheesy 50s cliches as it gets whilst still staying firmly on familiar galaxy-spanning-Empire territory. On the basis of this outing, Leckie is an author who can and should get better with every novel. Waiting for the next instalment with much anticipation...
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5.0 out of 5 stars I liked this book, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Well written and a welcome different feel to it. It got a bit complicated in the middle but I liked it so much I stuck with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars best sci fi i have read in ages, 23 May 2014
By 
Toby M. Holmes (Sheffield, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Its not perfect but it is very very good and well worth reading. I will look for ward to the next book she writes
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4.0 out of 5 stars great sci fi, 23 May 2014
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This review is from: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
A perfect antidote to banks' utopian space opera while carrying the same themes including the classic of sci fi "what does it mean to be human". Writing is more finctional than Banks but doesn't go off course either. Above all it's a book that treats reader as an adult, never stopping to explain or make it easy. Great read.
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